"When we got down to playing football, we played well," coach Tom O'Brien said.
So digesting a stretch in which it outscored its opponent by a 28-0 clip and yet still lost won't be easy. N.C. State fans put so much emphasis on the game against North Carolina that such an attitude is bound to rub off on the players, who'll share that disappointment.
"We have to work through this as a team," receiver Tobias Palmer said. "This week, we'll have to work hard in practice and mature throughout the week."
The Wolfpack might gain a break by playing its next game at home against a struggling team. Regaining the expected emotional level likely will be a primary task in the coming days.
WHAT'S AHEAD: The Wolfpack takes on struggling Virginia in a home game. It's the second opponent in a row from the Coastal Division and the Wolfpack is 0-2 in games against those foes this year.
When North Carolina returned a punt 74 yards in the final minute for a game-winning touchdown, it marked the first punt return for a score against N.C. State since 2005. Until that play by North Carolina's Giovani Bernard, the longest punt return yielded this season by the Wolfpack had been eight yards in the South Alabama game in September.
The Wolfpack didn't allow a point to North Carolina in a 2011 shutout, then gave up 25 first-quarter points in this year's meeting. Those were the most points by an N.C. State opponent in the first quarter since a 1997 game against Florida State.
"We expected the first-quarter blitz," N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien said. "When you're in a situation like this and all the hype that has gone on. ... They haven't won (against us) in five years, it's a home game (for them). They've been spending all year getting ready for it. ... That's the way these games go. You have to survive it."
KEEP AN EYE ON: WR Bryan Underwood stayed on pace with two touchdown receptions against North Carolina, giving him 10 touchdown catches this season. He has at least one in all eight games, giving him a school record.
LOOKING GOOD: CB C.J. Wilson intercepted a North Carolina pass in the end zone for a touchdown. The senior also forced and recovered a fumble after North Carolina moved into Wolfpack territory. The pickoff was the fourth of his career, though it was the first one he didn't return for a touchdown.
STILL NEEDS WORK: Pass protection became an issue with the Wolfpack yielding five sacks in the North Carolina. It was supposed to be the other way around because N.C. State's defense led the ACC in sacks entering the week, but managed only two despite North Carolina's 47 pass attempts.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It hurts having a 10-point lead. We have to give all the credit to (North Carolina). We still have four games left, and have to move on." -- C Camden Wentz, after the Wolfpack's five-game winning streak in the series came to an end on a last-minute punt return for a touchdown by the Tar Heels.
WR Tobias Palmer, a senior, compiled a career-best 119 receiving yards against North Carolina, marking the first time he has reached the 100-yard mark in a game. Included in those was his first touchdown of the season on an 83-yard play that ranks as the ninth-longest pass play in school history.
QB Mike Glennon threw for a career-high 487 yards by completing 29 of 52 passes against North Carolina. The yardage is the fourth highest in school history. The senior also tied his career high with five touchdown throws, matching another school mark.
S Brandan Bishop, who knows North Carolina star Giovani Bernard as they're both from south Florida, led N.C. State with 14 tackles against North Carolina.
WR Charlie Hegedus scored his first career touchdown to open the Wolfpack's scoring against North Carolina. It came on a 32-yard pass play to the freshman, who had only 38 receiving yards across the first seven games.
RB James Washington returned to action after missing more than a month with an ankle injury. He rushed six times for 14 yards and made a 1-yard catch against North Carolina, but he left with another injury.
K Niklas Sade, who made the game-winning kick in the previous game against Maryland, missed a 38-yard attempt against North Carolina in the third quarter. That snapped his string of five consecutive successful field goals and it was his only attempt of the game.